Bangladesh vegetable exporters fear they will lose Middle East to India

Vegetable exporters from Bangladesh fear that they may lose the Middle Eastern market to Indian exporters as the shipment of vegetables from Bangladesh has remained halted for more than two months due to lack of air communications amid the COVID pandemic.

They said that Bangladesh’s air communications with all other countries had remained suspended for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic but cargo flights between India and the Middle East countries had continued in the period.

‘India is taking the opportunity to grab the vegetable export market as the Middle East is searching for alternative sources of the products,’ Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters Association general secretary Mohammad Monsur told New Age on Friday.

He said that the government allowed vegetable exporters to make shipments to the Middle East through chartered flights but the exporters would be able to export a very low quantity of products as a very few chartered flights carrying expatriate Bangladeshis were coming to the country.

Traders will deal with shipment issues on an ad hoc basis
According to Monsur, after two months of international flight suspension, Bangladeshi exporters on May 26 and 27 sent 11 tonnes of vegetables to the Middle East through two chartered flights of Kuwait Airways which came to Dhaka carrying expatriate Bangladeshis. He said that Bangladeshi exporters would deal with shipment issues on an ad hoc basis and they could not be able to retain the market with the limited number of consignments as India had already started exporting vegetables to the Middle East in huge quantities.

Despite coronavirus-induced lockdowns, the demand for vegetables has remained the same in the Middle East countries and Bangladeshi exporters are losing orders for 30 tonnes of vegetables each day from Qatar due to lack of flights, Monsur said.

Vegetable exporters said that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates were the major destinations of Bangladeshi vegetables in the Middle East. The United Kingdom is also a key buyer of Bangladeshi vegetables.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau data, Bangladesh’s earnings from vegetable exports in July-March of the current financial Year 2019-20 stood at $146.71 million, which is 79.51 per cent higher than the earnings in the same period of last fiscal year.

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